Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

Acknowledgments are always a hearty reminder of the deeply collective nature of intellectual labor. A decade has passed since I began the work that produced this book; today my debts to those who have supported it are copious, and my memory far too feeble to do them all justice. Nonetheless, I am profoundly grateful to all who have nurtured this project since its...

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1. Southern Fried: Globalization and Immigrant Transformations

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pp. 1-24

“Her husband used to run whisky as a bootlegger,” my acquaintance divulged in a low voice. It was December 2003 and I was visiting Forest, Mississippi, to secure a place to live in advance of my move there the following month. Among the many dead-end leads I pursued, someone suggested I call a widowed white woman who had some land outside of town where she rented a...

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2. Dixie Chicken: Racial Segregation, Poultry Integration, and the Making of the “New” South in Central Mississippi

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pp. 25-43

“The Wing Dang Dash 5K run/walk will start the day off with a bang. After the run the wing cooking contest begins. Cooking teams begin preparing a year in advance to take home the top prize for the best chicken wing. Bring your lawn chair and relax under the shade trees as you enjoy a great lineup of bands who come from all around.”1 Nearing its sixtieth anniversary, this...

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3. The Caged Bird Sings for Freedom: Black Struggles for Civil and Labor Rights, 1950–1980

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pp. 44-67

“This office will be closed next Monday in observation of Robert E. Lee’s and Martin Luther King’s Birthday,” announces a notice taped to the door of the hulking gray Scott County Courthouse. On my way into court to interpret for an acquaintance, I breathe in the crisp January air, glance up at the cloudless blue sky, and, sighing, read it again. The racial justice...

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4. To Get to the Other Side: The Hispanic Project and the Rise of the Nuevo South

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pp. 68-92

“It’s amazing,” booms the director of production into his microphone. “You’ve just got to see it to believe it! Very soon, our birds will have never been touched by human hands. The chicken business is high-tech, folks. It’s not the mom-and-pop operation it used to be. And it needs you!” An expansive hotel dining room in Laurel, Mississippi, brims with...

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5. Pecking Order: Latino Newcomers, Receptions, and Racial Hierarchies

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pp. 93-119

“I think some of our new Hispanic guests have unfortunately been victims of racism.” Chris Thompson, a lean, thirty-something white man, leans toward me, his green eyes briefly scanning the stacks of papers scattered across the oversized desk that divides us. I shift in my seat too, eyeing my digital recorder to ensure it’s capturing his words. In Mississippi and...

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6. A Bone to Pick: Labor Control and the Painful Work of Chicken Processing

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pp. 120-146

“Welcome to the penitentiary!” a thin Black man bellows energetically through his beard net as we step through the front entrance of the chicken plant. After several years of hearing workers’ horror stories about this work, I can appreciate his humor.
“Management couldn’t have planned a more appropriate greeting,” I chuckle silently...

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7. Sticking Our Necks Out: Challenges to Union and Workers’ Center Organizing

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pp. 147-167

It is July 2002, and two Interfaith Worker Justice interns and I are taking our time assembling packets for an upcoming meeting of the Laborers’ International Union of North America local, which represents three chicken plants in Mississippi.1 Part of our sluggishness may be due to the summer heat. A small air conditioner is working overtime in...

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8. Walking on Eggshells: Illegality, Employer Sanctions, and Disposable Workers

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pp. 168-188

The back corner of the fellowship hall at Saint Anne’s Catholic Church in Carthage is packed this morning, evidence that the crisis at the local Tyson plant is escalating. The thirty-or-so poultry workers in the room and I talk informally in small groups, enlarging our uneven circle of chairs again and again as we make room for new arrivals. The mood is somber...

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9. Plucked: Labor Contractors and Immigrant Exclusion

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pp. 189-206

Emilio Hernández and I drive in anxious silence through the heavy evening air. Like his friends and roommates in the Green House, Hernández came to Forest from Veracruz, Mexico, after hearing of abundant work opportunities in chicken slaughter. In his new home for under a week, he has agreed to let me accompany him to the offices of the local...

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10. Flying Upwind: Toward a New Southern Solidarity

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pp. 207-226

My expansive, forested backyard has been transformed in festivity. Long tables line the perimeter of the cement-slab patio, and the Mississippi staples of macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and various casseroles fi nd a home among Guatemalan banana-leaf tamales, Peruvian papas a la huancaina, beef empanadas from Argentina, and Mexican mole poblano...

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Postscript. Home to Roost: Reflections on Activist Research

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pp. 227-248

Growing up in Kent, Ohio, I was aware of but rarely paid attention to the annual commemorations of the May 4, 1970, National Guard shootings, which killed four students at Kent State University, just miles from my home. This violence was spurred by the fears of people in positions of power over student protests mounting across the country in opposition to war...

Notes

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pp. 249-274

References

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pp. 275-302

Index

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pp. 303-315